Hello dear friends.
I delight in the beauty of the short story; they’re pleasantly short and give you all the perks a novel can. They’re like the hors d’oeures at parties before the grand dinner. Here is a little dramatic piece titled The Promise.
Rose bent over the pea plant, her back screaming for the twelfth time that day. But she could not stop. The overseer was just a few rows away, curling his whip around his wrist tenaciously, glancing back and forth at the weary workers, searching for an excuse to hear it crack on someone’s vulnerable back. It would not be Rose’s, she insisted inside her head as she glanced at the taut rope for a moment before shifting her attention back to the peas. Despite how much her body ached and begged for rest she would rather fall dead than feel that rope on her skin again. And so far she was keeping a good distance. Her last beating had been months ago, when she had tripped and fallen on her way back from the fields, spilling a basket full of tomatoes and splattering them all over the cobblestone. It gained her a clumsy reputation among the other workers, and they were wary to give her anything to hold. So she kept to herself, carrying her own few earnings and spending her own punishments. It’s what everyone expected of each other anyway.
The early autumn sun burned over the land of Quatremaine and its unfortunate residents. Rose despised this land. It was hot and dirty and dreadful. And it was not her home. It was a savage place where she had been stolen to, forcefully taken from her home many years ago to be stowed away in this god forsaken piece of land. The people were haughty and rich and stubborn, much to Rose’s distaste. And they kept slaves. One, of which, was Rose. She had been one for nine years. And she was all alone. Both her parents had died within the last five years from illness, and her younger sister was either wandering alone, living happily, or dead. She missed them all terribly, although the person she missed the most was him. He had promised her, when they were taken and later separated, that he would come and find her, and if he didn’t, it would be because he was dead. He claimed to never stop looking until it became the end of him. Remembering his face, wrought with anger and determination as she was ripped away, brought tears to Rose’s eyes. She hastily wiped one away when it threatened to escape down her cheek. She had to forget him. She would never see him again. He was gone, dead surely, for he would have found her before nine years had passed, and crying about it was useless. It got her in trouble, anyway, if she was ever caught. When she paused to wipe another escaping tear she noticed out of the corner of her eye the overseer glancing her way. Trying to fill her mind with nothing but peas she continued working, letting out a soft sigh when the overseer turned and stalked away.
“Come, Rose, will you not eat?”
“I’m not hungry, Alys.”
“But you looked exhausted out in the fields today. Surely, you must be starving.”
“No, just tired.”
Alys sighed and took up the untouched plate she had set in front of Rose. Alys was an elderly woman who cooked for the slaves. She was the only person Rose trusted on the entire plantation. She was kind and motherly, and ever since Rose’s parents died she took on the duty of caring for Rose like a grandmother. Being twenty-three, Rose always insisted that she could take care of herself, but Alys would just smile and pat Rose on the shoulder, inquiring on how she was “a devil of a girl.” Rose didn’t move from her seat as Alys started cleaning dishes, nor did she avert her gaze from the wooden table. She was aware, though, of Alys’ staring eyes as the woman watched her, trying to find her secret beneath her folded brow. Rose finally looked over at Alys, who smiled wide at her.
“What?” Rose asked, finding Alys’ smile contagious. Alys paused her work, dried off her hands, and came and sat on the bench next to Rose, looking her in the eyes.
“Something’s bothering you, Rose. What is it?”
Rose gulped back a lump that had suddenly sprung up in her throat.
“If I speak it aloud, I fear I will lose my composure,” she answered, almost in a whisper. Alys took Rose’s hand in hers, giving it a gentle squeeze.
“Well then, you don’t have to tell me. But give me the opportunity to cheer you up, at least,” she said, offering another contagious smile. After a second Rose laughed lightly, feeling a little better already with Alys’ presence.
“Dearest Alys, your dancing eyes and your glowing smile have already lifted my spirits,” Rose cooed, smiling brightly. Alys beamed.
“Excellent! Well then, since your spirits have been lifted,” she retrieved Rose’s still full plate and set it in front of her, “it is your stomach’s turn.”
“Alys…,” Rose began in a huffed voice.
“Come now, Rose. I will not have you go to bed with an empty stomach. You will never wake in the morning if you do, and it is a big day tomorrow.”
Rose silently submitted and turned to the plate, biting first into the bread, not at all like someone who claimed they weren’t hungry. Alys smiled and shook her head, returning to the dishes. As Rose ate she thought about tomorrow. It was going to be a big day. The lords of Davenwood, the province to the west, were visiting the plantation, which was the home of Lord Frodrick Bame of Quatremaine. Being under the service of a lord was nothing to Rose. In fact, she rather wished she was serving under a less important man, even a poor commoner, than the spouting Lord Frodrick. He was loud and fumbled about everywhere, walking with his chin high and his dewy eyes looking down upon everyone else. Rose didn’t care about the lords or having to watch them ride in on their frothy, stubborn steeds dressed in obnoxious and expensive leather and fur, but she had no choice. Deep in her thoughts she hadn’t realized how quickly her food disappeared, but she had been very hungry. Thanking Alys for the meal, she walked quietly to the chamber room she shared with other slave girls, being careful that her muddy boots full of holes didn’t make a sound on the stone floor, for it was late and many would be asleep already. As she climbed into bed the ever desired sleep that she had dreamed about for hours that day was eagerly welcomed, followed by a frown as she recalled the extra early hour she would have to wake in the morning.
What do you think thus far? Leave a comment with your thoughts and opinions. Tune in tomorrow for part 2 🙂